Mounties unbeaten start to the 2015 VB NSW Cup season has come to an end with a controversial 16-10 loss to the Penrith Panthers at St Mary's on Saturday.
Mounties got off to a great start with several attacking raids against the Panthers and their patience and persistence paid off in the 6th minute when a nice backline move saw Bill Tupou go over in the far corner to open the scoring and Mounties led 4-0 after the conversion missed its mark.
Mounties kept up the pressure on the Panthers and were able to get a few repeat sets but a contentious penalty against Mitch Cornish for being offside from his own kick relieved the pressure on Penrith and they were able to survive.
In the 25th minute the pressure paid off for Mounties when a Cornish kick was spilled by the Panthers fullback and Mitch Barnett was on hand to pick up the pill for a four pointer and Mounties led 10-0.
In the 29th minute a knock on from the Panthers was ruled to have gone backwards and they quickly spread the ball to the left edge but a jarring tackle from Pat Mataele dislodged the ball and Mounties dived on it however to the disbelief of the Mounties players the Panthers were awarded the scrum feed and from the next play they were able to score and reduce deficit to 10-6 with the conversion.
Mounties were able to regroup and they forced the Panthers into another error but couldn't capitalise and on the next Penrith set another knock on was missed by the officials who then penalised the Mounties players for dissent and the Panther were gifted field position.
With the rain turning to hail and conditions deteriorating rapidly the Panthers use the fortune of the disputed call to score their second try and with the scores at 10-10 the half time bell was a welcome sound for everyone.
The second half commenced after an extended break and with the half only two minutes old and Mounties right on the attack the ground officials called the Penrith team off the ground due to lightning and the game was suspended while the storm passed.
At the restart play went end to end and in the 53rd minute a jolting tackle on Bill Tupou saw the ball slip out of his hand like a cake of soap and slid across the turf to be picked up by the Penrith winger who had an open run to the line and with the conversion going wide they led the game 14-10.
Mounties weren't prepared to give up though and they received several penalties with the Panthers employing spoiling tactics in the ruck in an effort to slow the momentum of Mounties but they couldn't make the most of their possession.
In the 73rd minute another controversial penalty to the Panthers in front of the posts saw them kick a penalty goal to make it 16-10 and from the next set after the restart a Penrith 40/20 saw them attacking again but they couldn't break Mounties line.
A last ditch effort from Mounties couldn't secure points and some luck for the Panthers saw them receive a double set after a spilt ball that appeared to be picked up from an offside player was ruled six to go and they were able to close out the game and take the win 16-10.
Next weekend is the representative round and the competition has the week off however we are extended to see some of our players earning jerseys and having a run.
Round nine of the VB NSW Cup will see Mounties travel to Canberra where they will play the Bulldogs in the curtain raiser to the NRL Raiders versus Titans game at GIO Stadium
Penrith Panthers 16 (R Jennings, T Eisenhuth, B Attwood tries; L Latu 2 goals) bt Mounties 10 (M Barnett, B Tupou tries; M Cornish goal)